Turin - Interviews

Drawings Come to Artissima 2017: an Interview with Curators Luís Silva e João Mourão

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This year Artissima announced the first edition of “Disegni, a brand new section of the fair entirely dedicated to drawings. On this occasion, Carla Ingrasciotta has interviewed Luís Silva and João Mourão, Co-Directors of Kunsthalle Lissabon in Lisbon and Curators of “Disegni”, to discover more about this new part of the fair, the challenges, news and expectations.

Carla Ingrasciotta: You have been appointed to curate “Disegni” a brand new section of Artissima. Which challenges are you facing and what is your aim?

Luís Silva and João Mourão: We think there are two main challenges in curating the first edition of Disegni. The first one is the fact that it is a new section of Artissima. There is no previous understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in terms of a very specific section. Also, there are no terms of comparison, we can’t expand on what was done by previous curators the same way we can’t react against or change the direction of the section. We got a blank slate and we are the ones actually defining the tone of what Disegni is and can be. That, in itself, is very challenging. A second challenge lies at the heart of the section, its theme, if you will: drawing as a medium. As curators we have always been very interested in thinking critically about established categories, and this is a perfect opportunity to do so. We are interested in going beyond the established notion of drawing as a medium and expanding it towards a more discursive or narrative field. What if drawing is a metaphor? What if drawing is a specific way of engaging with the world? That is a huge challenge, thinking how drawing still is a relevant tool for contemporary artistic speculation.

C.I.: Could you tell us about the selection criteria for the international galleries and artists?

L.S. & J. M.: The process of selection was very straightforward. We wanted solo projects, rather than group presentations, so that the section remains sharp and focused. That was our biggest concern, a clear curatorial vision that is self-evident. We wish that what we are trying to do becomes visible without a lot of complicated explanation. There were direct invitations to galleries that represented a specific artist whose practice we thought resonated with what we wanted to do with the section. And there was also a more traditional application procedure, to which galleries could apply with a specific proposal, and from which we also chose those who fit into our concept for the first edition of Disegni.

C.I.: How important is drawing as a practice in contemporary art?

L.S. & J. M.: In our view, drawing is just as important as any other medium in contemporary art. It has its own specificities, its own idiosyncrasies if you will, and that is where it gets interesting. It has always been perceived as a preparatory medium for other, more noble media, such as painting and sculpture, for instance, but it has gone through a tremendous process of self critique and self exploration, expanding it to a medium in its own right, and that’s what we are trying to show: how diverse it can be, how expanded it can be, how much more complex, nuanced, critical and committed to the world it can be, despite its apparent formal simplicity.

C.I.:  How much of Kunsthalle Lissabon are you bringing to curate the drawing section?

L.S. & J. M.:  Kunstalle Lissabon is an institutional project from which we have been thinking about our relation to institutions, both as individuals and a community. It is fundamentally critical, self-reflexive and speculative. It is a non-for profit endeavor in which the artist and the relationship we establish with them takes center stage. A curated section in an international contemporary art fair functions in a very different way and we need to be aware of the context in which we are working if we want to present something meaningful. Despite these two contexts being very different one informs the other, and they are both part of a complex ecosystem. They need each other in order to survive. We think we bring this understanding to the section.

C.I.: How much do you think collectors are attracted by works on paper?

L.S. & J. M.:  We think it depends on the collectors. Longtime, more experienced collectors are probably as attracted to drawing as to other media. The interesting thing, though, and this is why we think Artissima was brilliant in creating this new section, is that drawing is a great way to bring new people into collecting. If an art fair can produce a new generation of collectors (and that is achieved through a drawing section), then it is a successful art fair. We’re happy to be part of that.

C.I.: Finally, how are you spending your free time in Turin? How do you perceive the city art scene?

L.S. & J. M.: At Artissima, of course! We need to set up, make sure galleries and artists are well taken care of and are happy with what they are presenting and how the fair is going. Once that is achieved we want to experience as much as possible of the cultural landscape of the city, which at the distance seems very impressive, with galleries, museums, collections, etc. We’re sure it is going to be packed! And it is truffle season, on top of everything, so that is also on our to do list!

Save the date: Artissima 2017
3 – 5 November 2017
Oval Lingotto Fiere
Giacomo Mattè Trucco 70, Turin

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Luís Silva and João Mourão Luís Silva and João Mourão
  • Mark Dion, The Misanthropes, 2013. Courtesy In Situ - fabienne leclerc Photo: Raphael Fanelli Mark Dion, The Misanthropes, 2013. Courtesy In Situ - fabienne leclerc Photo: Raphael Fanelli
  • Seb Patane, Jack , 2017. Courtesy Galleria Fonti Napoli Seb Patane, Jack , 2017. Courtesy Galleria Fonti Napoli

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